Tag: craig turk

F.B.I. (CBS) pilot preview: Dick Wolf By The Book

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Private Practice, Boston Legal). Also produced by Dick Wolf (Law & Order, SVU, Truee Crime, Chicago Fire, PD, Med, Justice), Peter Jankowski & Arthur W. Forney. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Millenium, Under The Dome, Mr Robot, Midnight, Texas). For NBCUniversal TelevisionCBS Television Studios & Wolf Films. 60 pages. Network Draft. 1/22/18.

Description: the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, alongside relatively young agents Maggie Bell & Otilio Abramah “OA” Casillas, and the emotional toll cases have on their relationships and personal lives…

With Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue, Van Helsing, Reaper), Zeeko Zaki (24 Legacy, Valor, Six), Jeremy Sisto (Ice, The Returned, Suburgarory, Law & Order, Six Feet Under), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman Boss, The Following, Gladiator), Ebonée Noel (Wrecked, Still Star-Crossed)…

  

You’ll Like It You Already Like: Any straight police procedural show.

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10 (one of the few slots available where there’s no Dick Wolf show on NBC)

 

No, it’s not a typo in the article’s title: this show produced by Dick Wolf is really for CBS! F.B.I. will be Wolf’s first drama series to launch on a network other than NBC in 15 years, since the 2003 Dragnet reboot on ABC that didn’t last long. So what happened? The project was originally developed at NBC but with Wolf’s Chicago franchise expanding, taking 3 hours in the schedule, plus veteran Law & Order:SVU still alive and new iteration Law & Order True Crime coming, there was simply not slot available for it in NBC’s slate of procedurals. So it made sense for him to look to expand his brand elsewhere and CBS was the logical first destination since the eye network is known for its crime procedurals. NBC will still get some money out of it anyway since Universal is co-producing F.B.I. with CBS. The only downside here is that they won’t be able to crossover the show with Chicago PD (or any other), something they probably would have done on NBC. CBS was so happy to get a Wolf show that they ordered it straight-to-series with a 13-episode commitment, without any writer attached and of course any script ready. Former The Good Wife executive producer Craig Turk was then recommended for the job by CBS, being one of the top drama writers on CBS TV Studios’ roster. And here we are!

So, F.B.I… Could they find a more generic title than this? It sums up the whole concept of the show, really. In that regard, it is perfect. Though they could have added “: New York“, cos’ knowing both Wolf and CBS, if it works for them, we will get the Los Angeles & Miami versions sooner or later! There’s a definitive lack of ambition, as the logline can attest, and it’s a choice. It’s not like they were trying to make something crazy original and they totally failed in the end. No, they were just aiming at a simple, straight-forward crime procedural since the beginning. No fat. But is it a smart move in 2018? Don’t you need a hook, even in a procedural, to bring interest? I think the reasoning behind is quite easy: Dick Wolf is a brand, and people who love his brand don’t want anything that would deviate from it. No high-concept. No strange consultant. No magic. So Wolf is bringing exactly what people are supposedly looking for from him. And from CBS. Haters gonna hate. Lovers gonna love! I don’t consider myself as a hater of Dick’s work but I can’t say that I’m a fan either. I always find his shows bland and F.B.I. kinda is too. It’s never really about the characters. It’s about the case of the week and the investigation. And sometimes, when there’s a little time left, they throw us crumbs of information about the investigators’ private lives. Like a well-deserved reward. That’s what happens here. When the pilot ends, we know one thing about every principal character. Which is already a lot I guess from such a show.

That being said, F.B.I. is as efficient as a procedural can get and it’s fast-paced. The situation is quickly set. The investigation starts two pages in. You’re given twists and cliffhangers every 8-10 minutes or so. You get a proper conclusion in the last two pages. Nothing’s left to your imagination. And it’s done. Again: no fat. There’s still some kind of ambition though, I was lying earlier. The case they chose to tackle is quite strong and heavy. Terrorism. In New York. Nothing original here either. But bombs explode, buildings collapse. It’s gonna cost a lot of money! So it starts with two bombs detonating at a working-class South Bronx apartment complex, injuring many and killing a local 7-year old boy. It’s quite horrifying, so you’re either hooked or disgusted. And then it’s the whole city that’s under a major bomb threat. Another one is found at a community center and our agents are in the constant fear of a new one exploding anywhere. The stakes are high. It must be impressive for people who never saw any of 24, Homeland or more recently Quantico. For the others, it’s business as usual. But once again, it’s well made and once you’re in, you just stay. Unless you’re not into cellphone melted on a guy’s burnt leg and other digusting things like that. Will they be able, budget-wise, to go as big in every episode? Probably not. It’s gonna become quieter I guess. Once the dust settles, they will have to be careful not to enter the boring zone…

The characters are instantly working, maybe because we meet them right into the action, and then they never sleep, never quit. You have Maggie Bell -skilled, intellectual, emotional- hard not to like, the real heroine here; Otilio Abraham “OA” Casillas -former undercover DEA operative, instinctual, grizzled- very typical; Jubal Valentine, an experienced agent who thrives on stress -and adds a hint of humor-; Kristen Yessayen, a highly intelligent analyst; Ian Lentz, a forensic technology expert; and finally Ellen Toy, the deeply respected boss, who’s elegant, cultured, disarmingly direct and impossible to intimidate. Love her already. It’s a really good team on paper and the actors they chose, especially Jeremy Sisto and Connie Nielsen, are always great. Again, F.B.I. is very low-key on the character’s private lives and doesn’t introduced any serialized elements. At some point, Maggie says : “I eat dinner with Kristen in the office most nights and neither of us have a personal life to talk about.” We’ve been warned! We’re not in Shondaland, we’re in Dickland. Oopsie. Wolfland sounds better!

F.B.I. is your go-to procedural, Dick Wolf by the book product. It’s exactly what you expect from him. It fits perfectly with CBS actual line-up and might be the beginning of a lucrative franchise… unless viewers are looking for something else these days, in the era of peak TV. It will probably skew old, even though most of the characters are young, but it’s CBS best chance at success next year, it seems. Go Dick, do your thing!

Perfect Citizen (CBS) pilot preview: The Good Whistleblower

Written and executive produced by Craig Turk (The Good Wife, Boston Legal, Private Practice). Directed by Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, Pitch, NYPD Blue, Cold Case). For CBS Television Studios & Thinking Hat Productions. 65 pages. Second Network Draft. 01/17/17.

Description:  After his involvement as a whistleblower in an international scandal, Deck Parsons, the former general counsel for the NSA embarks on a new career at a storied law firm in Boston where his daughter works. Once there, he must face the reality that half the country thinks he’s our greatest patriot, the other half thinks he’s a traitor and so do his colleagues and clients…

With Noah Wyle (ER, Falling Skies, The Librarian), Kristin Chenoweth (The West Wing, Glee, Pushing Daisies), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Mr Robot, Glee), Lenny Platt (How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico), Adrienne Warren, Stephanie Szostack (Satisfaction), Shanley Caswell (NCIS New Orleans)…

   

You’ll like if you already like: The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Damages

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9

 

Quick résumé of Craig Turk, a writer you may not know: he’s a former attorney, he got hist first writer job at Boston Legal, then worked with Shonda Rhimes on Private Practive, and he joined The Good Wife in 2012, originally as a consulting producer and later as an executive producer. He even emerged as a trusted number 2 and heir apparent to creators Robert and Michelle King, tipped to succeed them as showrunner should the series had continued beyond seven seasons. Which thankfully didn’t happen. He could have joined the spin–off The Good Fight but he prefered creating his own stuff for CBS Television Studios where he is under an overall deal. And here we are. Perfect Citizen looks like a solid legal drama, which is not surprising; but the more I read the pilot script the more I was under the impression it was a carbon copy of The Good Wife. Take it as both a compliment and a warning.

The Good Wife is undoubtedly one of the greatest legal dramas ever made. Period. It was really strong for a longtime and even though I’m not a big supporter of the last two more political seasons, it was still incredible. 5-6 episodes in, The Good Fight is also a strong and even important show. Do we need another series in the same vein right now? It may be too soon. Perfect Citizen is not a lesser The Good Wife. It has a ton of potential. And The Good Wife was not the greatest from the get go. They needed a few episodes to get their groove on. With The Good Wife paving the way, Perfect Citizen starts big using the same plot devices in a similar environment with different characters but characters who would have fit perfectly at Lockhart/Gardner. Since it’s written the same way, the only person that may give the show a distinctive feel is the director. Paris Barclay never worked on The Good Wife or any other legal drama. He’s mostly known for his directing on Sons of Anarchy, a very different series obviously. I’m hopeful he will add something, his own thing, to the mix.

I don’t want to sound obsessed by The Good Wife -though I might be- but I just want to tell you how much Perfect Citizen is the same kind of beast. Of course, there’s the fact that they chose an ex-ER alumn to play the lead in both cases. It also starts with a scandal -of a different nature- and put the principal character, Deck Parsons, in the spotlight. Alicia Florrick was not responsible for what happened to her. Deck is. Not entirely, but still. Like her, he has to go back to work as a lawyer in a firm where he has ties. Will Gardner was Alicia’s old friend since law school and a powerful man in Chicago. Here, Paul, one of the partners, is Deck’s best friend since law school, a powerful ally and Boston power broker. And then there’s Jessica Hellsbury played by the brilliant Kristin Chenoweth. She’s the heartbeat of the firm and got her name on the door by outworking and out thinking the Ivy Leaguers. She’s different from Diane Lockhart if you look at the details but she has the same kind of personality and she gets the same respect from her colleagues. Honestly, I could go on and on. Deck has an assistant, Ingrid, who’s his Kalinda. There’s Felix Reyes, the self-proclaimed “Alpha Associate” at the firm. As charming, brilliant, ambitious and pretentious as a certain Cary Agos. And there’s a strong family element to the show since Deck’s daughter is part of the firm while his brother “Buddy” is in the picture too. It may lacks a clear love interest but there are possibilities.

The case of the first episode -there’s only one- is very much a tell of nowadays with a telecom giant named TwoTwig which doesn’t want to give the personal informations they have on the whereabouts and communications of a missing 18 year-old girl to the lawyers. It’s efficient and absorbing. The courtroom scenes are captivating. That’s what the show is aiming for: stories that are political, controversial, that say a lot about the society we’re living in, about our governments, about the lack of privacy due to new technologies, but that never forget they’re about people, living and breathing men and women like you and me. Deck Parsons is the “perfect” Edward Snowden-like character to vehicle those big ideas and views about the world. Of course, the show itself is political and there’s one villain introduced in the very first minutes: Attorney General Fran Davids. She was a good friend of Deck until he commited what she considers as treason. Now they’re bitter enemies. That’s the main serialized story we’re offered for now. And it’s exciting.

Perfect Citizen could have been called The Good Whistleblower. It’s following the steps of The Good Wife with an impressing precision and an indeniable talent. It’s not a game-changer legal drama and it doesn’t sound like a future mega-hit for CBS but critics will love it and people who love high-end television series will have a ball.